Becoming an optimist is easier than you might think. All that is required is to simply create a new habit until your brain automatically defaults to positive thoughts. If you apply the step-by-step technique provided here there is no other possible outcome besides becoming extremely optimistic. Doins so will alter your neural pathways so that positivity becomes natural and automatic. Now that scientists have shown that a positive outlook makes you healthier, happier and more likely to succeed, why not make the change?
“What? Ugh, 7 am already? Why do I have to get up now? Why can’t I just stay in bed a bit longer? It’s so cold out there…Ok, I have no choice, I have to get up right now. I’m so tired! I sure hope I don’t run into that idiot again. Why doesn’t he just leave me alone? What the? Where did this coffee stain come from? Why do I have to deal with this now?! Why does everthing bad happen to me? This sucks! If only I could just leave my job and go off and…”
Sound familiar? Those were my thoughts years ago. It is normal and common to have negative thoughts. It is also normal to feel as if you cannot control your thoughts. But there is nothing wrong with you, despite what people say. There is hope. Here are my thoughts today…
“(Upon opening my eyes) Ah! Another day full of opportunities and excitements! 5:00 am, what a peaceful and powerful part of the day. (As I sit up and my feet hit the ground I think) What am I grateful for today? Well, I am healthy and strong. I am loved and love. I am grateful for my heart, which I never had to work for or earn, it was a gift. I am grateful for what it has guided me to do, to live and give. Oh, it’s going to be nice and warm today. Terrific. How did I get to be so lucky? (As I begin to exercise) I am so fortunate that I found an exercise I actually like. (I take a breath) How lucky I am to be alive! Life really is beautiful. Let’s see, what will be great about today?…”
Sound a bit better? How would you like to spend your days immersed in positive thoughts? The key to eliminating negative thoughts is to replace them with the habit of positive thinking. When I set out to rid myself of negativity, I struggled at first, a lot. Eventually, I realized that thinking positive is simply the creation of a new and better habit. I began to simply replace every negative thought I noticed with a positive one. I was shocked by the simplicity and speed at which I became a positive thinker. I realized that I alone was responsible for, and therefore the master of, my thoughts.
Cultivating the Habit Of Positive Thinking
Your negative thoughts are not the result of depression, or a chemical imbalance, or your circumstances. Your negative thoughts are the cause of them. This may seem like a bold statement, but it is clear and unmistakably true to those who have practiced self-control. Of course there are a few exceptions, such as birth defects, however, if you can read and understand this, you can rid yourself of negative thinking. You can allow only positive thoughts to enter your mind. You can train your brain to think positive. Let me explain.
Your mind is like a garden. Negative thoughts are like weeds. By default, weeds will grow all over the garden of your mind. If you pay no attention and put forth no effort, your garden will be overrun with weeds. However, if you decide to beautify your garden, you must pull out all the weeds one by one, even when they pop up again. Then you plant beautiful flowers and plants, vegetables and fruit trees. At first, massive effort is required, however, eventually you only need to occasionally tend to your garden and can enjoy the fruits and flowers of your garden.
In life, effort is required. If you try to coast through life, life will batter you from all angles. It’s a tough thing to hear, but recognizing this fact and accepting it is hugely liberating. I repeat, effort is demanded of you in life. If you try to get around this simple truth, you will end up working harder to fight against it. But, if you accept this truth and adjust yourself in accordance with it, you will be richly rewarded.
Your brain is amazingly flexible and sensitive, but your brain can also become very rigid if you run the same pattern over and over again. That is what a habit is. That is what skill is. Let’s take tennis for example. The first time you play you will feel clumsy and unsure of yourself. The racquet might slip out of your hands, the ball will go much further or shorter than you expected. You may stumble and your body won’t quite react in the way you hope it will. Now, fast forward to yourself playing tennis after years of careful pratice. You glide gracefully across the court, swing the racquet with ease and the ball goes exactly where you want it to. You move with composure and calm. As soon as you see the ball coming towards you, you instinctively (without thinking) know where to go. Your brain and body simply react. You have trained yourself. You have a new habit.
Trying something new is like going deep into the jungle with no path to show you the way. A habit is like a well-worn bike path. If you have done something over and over, the path will become clearer and clearer and it will be easier and easier to follow the same path. However, it will also become much more difficult to get off the path. If your bike tires are following the groove of an old bike trail, it will be difficult to suddenly steer yourself from the well-worm path. Perhaps you may even stumble if the change is too jarring.
Repetition trains your brain and creates new pathways in which your brain gets comfortable and settles into. Think about something in which you are now proficient. There was a time when you knew nothing about it, right? Through doing it again and again, you have trained yourself in new behaviors and abilities.
Thinking negative is no different. If you often dwell in negative thoughts, it is simply because it has become a habit. But do not despair, for right here and right now you can start to create a new path, one of positivity! You simply need to replace the old habit of negativity with a new habit of positivity. How do you do this? I will show you.
How to Become a Positive Thinker
1) DECIDE – First, you must make the decision to become a positive thinker. It is a choice. The positive thinkers of the world have decided to be positive. Your mind is your territory and you can wisely command the thoughts within you. It just takes some practice and repitition. This first step is as simple as it is profound.
2) PAY ATTENTION – The next step is to get aware of your thoughts. Simply noticing your thoughts more is a huge step in the direction of becoming positive. You don’t have to pay attention all the time, just more.
3) REPLACE WITH POSITIVE THOUGHTS – When you notice a negative thought, cut it off and replace it with a positive one. Every time you notice negativity, gently re-direct your mind to something positive. Anything positive is fine. Look around and find something beautiful, calming, peaceful or exciting. If you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, over and over, soon your new habit will be to think positive. Just like learning to write with your non-dominant hand, the beginning will be the most difficult, but it will become easier and easier if you stick with it. Once it is a new habit, only you can break it again and you’ll never want to! (See the tips below for help on doing this)
4) REPEAT – Just like any new habit, at first it will seem very difficult and you will forget to do this again and again. You will feel awkward and unstable. You will question your ability to succeed. But, the only thing you need to do to guarantee your success is to persist. If you want to learn anything new, you can, but you need to practice again and again.
Some Practical Tips to Ensure Your Success
1) Put reminders all over the place. Put a rubber band around your wrist, a note on the mirror or change your computer/phone wallpaper. Make sure that you are constantly reminded to check in with your thoughts.
2) Have things handy which will make you feel good instantly. You can play a song that makes you feel great, a picture that reminds you of someone you love or an experience you enjoyed. Keep a photo you enjoy looking at or an inspirational quote in your wallet or purse. Put sticky notes all over or where you will regularly see them.
3) Choose a trigger. Decide to check in with your thoughts every time you, for example, see something green! Or every time you walk through a doorway.
4) You can close your eyes and simply remember a time when you felt grateful, or peaceful, calm, happy, excited or proud.
5) Ask yourself questions which make you feel and think positive. For example:
- What am I really grateful for?
- Who do I really love and care about?
- What am I really proud of?
- What am I excited about?
- What is great about right now?
- What will be great about today?
6) Take time to observe and enjoy nature. There is such beauty and peace waiting there for you, if you just give it your attention.
It’s Not You! It’s Your Habit!
Remember, you can change. You must create a new habit. The beginning is by far the most difficult, but you will soon notice change and that will be exciting. You will then re-double your efforts and it won’t be long until you hit your stride. You can become a positive thinker. Repitition is the key. You are just learning a new skill, a new habit.
If you have decided to become a positive thinker, there is no stopping you. If you have committed to it, then it will happen. It is simply a matter of time and practice until you become the master of your mind and wisely direct and command your thoughts. You will clean out all the weeds and replace them with beautiful flowers, but first you must decide to beautify the garden of your mind. Then you must get to work digging out the weeds and planting the fruits and flowers which will blossom in your mind. Soon you will dwell in the garden of your own choosing, of your own design. You will look upon the garden of your mind with satisfaction, pride and peace, knowing that you alone are the source of it’s beauty.
Update: Due to the popularity of this post and request for more, I have written How to Become a Positive Thinker: Part II with more techniques to help you become a positive thinker for life.